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..:: Faith ::..

By

Alan Schneider

                                                                                            

              Faith is the subject of this first SYNERGY Essay of 2010, and this concept will be studied and considered from the perspectives of the many dimensions that it represents in human consciousness and our human condition. 

            In the simplest view, Faith is the personal belief in the existence of some process, entity, or condition that is not immediately supported by physical evidence on the Physical Plane of conscious expression.  Now, why is this important for our consideration here?  Because without Faith, life has no deeper meaning than the collection and manipulation of physical objects, the most superficial level of human involvement, one that is satisfying only to the most base and ignorant among us.   The moment that a person begins to investigate beyond this baseline level of perception,  the domain of deeper, more extended, and fundamental, meaning is encountered – the realm of Faith and Belief that ultimately deals with what can be sensed and perceived perhaps only indirectly, but is still very significant within human consciousness.  

            Faith demonstrates a complex array of composite elements making up its larger manifestation. These include the aforementioned belief, and hope, revelation, social interaction and reinforcement,  testimony,  sacrifice, and such practices as prayer and meditation.   All of these combine in individual proportions to express the quality and extent of our Faith in some thing or some process that we have identified as tangentially (or perhaps even literally) present in the world around us.  Let us examine these features separately with an eye to revealing their contribution to that composite that is Faith.  

            Belief is intimately associated with Faith.   Belief is the personally held conviction that the world operates according to some principle, or principles, that may be unseen or unverifiable, but nonetheless exist on some Plane of experience that at least affects the Physical and Material condition shown to our consciousness by the senses.   Belief can result from many sources, including indoctrination (often independent of experience), experience itself as interpreted from any number of existential perspectives, and revelation resulting from some series of generally unusual events occurring either internally of externally.   The basis of belief resulting from indoctrination is possibly the most common one, and also the most dangerous one, since this requires absolutely no underpinning in any other mode of thought or experience.   Amazingly, all that is required to instill belief at this level is the insistent repetition of some information whether demonstrably correct or not to the human subject.   This is the operant principal of brainwashing, and every totalitarian regime in history (including those who have vigorously denied this identity) has used it extensively to control the subordinate human population present within its borders.   Sadly, many religious belief systems have also used this approach to the presentation of belief with their membership, rather than permit and encourage them to independently investigate and decide for themselves what is true and correct in this world and the next.  

            When belief is the result, at least in part, of experienced events in life, this is possibly less questionable than indoctrination, with the caveat that our experiences are always the result of some framework of interpretation, and do not stand solely on their own merits.   Indeed, experience uninterrupted is meaningless chaos – we must interpret.  The point here is to be aware of what mechanism we are using to perform the interpretation, and of the fact of its existence within our consciousness.   Again, sadly, many people have no such awareness, possibly in consequence of their spiritual (or other) indoctrination,  and live in the grip of all manner of assumptions and suppositions that unconsciously determine their Faith.   In order to think sensibly, we must know from what source our thoughts are emerging, or more commonly not emerging, into perception and expression.   The great bulk of therapy centers on the identification by the client of the here-to-fore unconscious  mechanisms that have effectively controlled belief and behavior up to that point.  Thus, although the use of personal experience as the foundation of belief is less objectionable than indoctrination, it still can be held up to question and requires extensive self inquiry as the price of its practice.  

            Revelation is possibly the most valid source of belief, and at the same time, also possibly the least valid, depending upon its source of inspiration.  The psychotic individual frequently has many revelations of belief, all of which are highly unsubstantial from the perspective of and kind of concrete material verification.   Yet, most of the advancements of science have been inspired by the imagined revelation of visionary individuals who then applied the scientific method of inquiry to these bold precepts and discovered momentous things in consequence.   Clearly, revelation is meaningful only when it can be placed in some framework of consequence for humanity in general.  Of what use is the (still mathematically unverified) Cosmic String theory for the “man (or woman) in the street” who has just lost a position due to the contraction of the world economy, and must compete to find another?   Of what use is belief in a God who cannot, or apparently does not, provide the necessities of life for the believer?   To be useful as more than simply a perceptual curiosity, revelation must be relevant.  How is this relevancy achieved?   By deeply confronting the revelation until its relevancy is rendered explicitly evident in our consciousness.   In this context, all of the Jungian synchronicities and archetypes are at least potential revelations, yielding their hidden gems of wisdom through the Jungian realization process when and if it is fully applied in the transpersonal analysis venue.   Thus, ultimately, we must make our revelations contextually useful for ourselves and others as the price of individuation.  

            Another facet of Faith is Hope.    Our condition as commonly perceived by the senses is very challenging – we find ourselves biologically founded in a sense perception and body that certainly looks to all appearances like they are both quite finite in extent, and that “extent” is fraught with confusion, frustration, and suffering more often than not for the duration.    Yet, we must make our way though this intimidating background to discover what morsels of light might be present, and therein lies the essence of Hope – the aspect of belief that continuously seeks illumination – yes, enlightenment – of the riddles of human existence.    It is through this process of progressive enlightenment that all hope is created in our species in the face of our many inarguable limitations.    And this complex of Hope is viable – the evidence of near death experiences does seem to support the belief in an afterlife (if the mechanism remains obscure), the correspondence among the endocrine glands and the Chakras is likewise evident as the Kundalini Shakti rises, as is the association of the planets and signs with the incidence of macro-events in individual, social, and national affairs postulated by astrology, and the list goes on.   There is good reason to suppose that the remarkably consistent advice of the Saints and Seers throughout history does lead to a more productive and happy life when this is followed than when it is ignored or defied, witness the fall of many a dictator and tyrant!   So, the mere quest for enlightenment always supports the fact of Hope.  

            In the act of testimony we confirm, often at great personal peril and cost, what we have personally found to be true about Faith, Belief, and Hope.   This is the process of bearing witness to our innermost events before others.   The act of bearing witness not only supports the investigation of spiritual Truth, but actively encourages others to follow suite in their own lives by sharing their own spiritual Truth as a social offering.   In this sense, testimony is an aspect of another, larger, more expansive spiritual act – sacrifice.   The risk of social retaliation that we undergo when we testify to our Truth is already a sacrifice by its very nature, even if that retaliation does not immediately materialize – we have sacrificed our precious personal security by standing forth in Faith.  

            I have had much to say about sacrifice (literally “to make sacred”) in these essays, and now I will say more.   Sacrifice is the communication process that, more than any other, connects us to God through Faith and Hope.   Every time we release something of prized content in our lives for the sake of the Truth of Consciousness, we take a giant step forward in Love and Enlightenment.   Through sacrifice, we not only become more like God, we become more of God, and God becomes more of us.    There is literally no way to exaggerate the power and importance of this action in spiritual development – it transcends all other practices in effect and potency.   The apparently spare and humble life of the poverty stricken monk that is lived as an act of sacrifice to the Self as the embodiment of God bestows a great entitlement by literally placing that individual directly within the Light and Love of that Presence – what greater wealth can there be?   This is what is meant by the Christian admonition “Tis more Blessed to Give than to Receive” – when giving occurs in the context of genuinely selfless service to others in the name of God, the bond of Faith is increased and strengthened, bringing us into the Holy Presence and securing the Blessing of Divine Grace.   By comparison, when we receive a material gift, no matter how well made, we are receiving something transitory and superficial that will leave us eventually, where the bond with God created by sacrifice never will.   What would you choose?  

            The social processes of  interaction, prayer, and meditation are the trinity of Faith in practice.   Whether engaged in through isolation, with a partner, or in a group of any size, these three activities make Faith real – much more than just a casual or hypothetical concept that can be easily disregarded or ignored when convenient.    These keep us on track to the Divine Destination by working together for that purpose, building a community of Faith both within the individual Psyche and among other devoted people.   Spiritual interaction, known as Satsang in Sanskrit, and simply as the Church (or Mass) in Christianity connects us socially to the Divine life, prayer connects us interpersonally through dialog to God as the Universal Consciousness, and meditation connects us to the Seat of God within us – the Self.   I personally feel that these three actions are mutually supporting in and of the Divine lifestyle – they all work together and reinforce each other in harmony to produce an integrated spiritual condition and society of Faith dedicated to the Divine Life.  

            So it would appear that Faith is a most complex subject indeed, and it is no wonder that it has been regarded throughout history as the ultimate force at work in human affairs.   Faith is the living relationship with a God who has become actualized, literally forged into manifest existence by the Faithful themselves, or Self realized in Jungian terms – the Word made Flesh in the Presence of the Temple, the Sacrament, and the Christ.   Such a force is beyond intellectual logical comprehension – it must be experienced through participation in its rites, rituals, and institutions.  It must be witnessed in the demonstrations of its personal, social, and cultural power and potency in the material world on the Physical Plane of existence.    It must be known through the acts of sacrifice and devotion that mark the Faithful as its adherents and followers, great and small.   Once again, I give you this gift, my friends...

                                          - With Love, Alan -

                         (Copyright 2010, by Alan Schneider)

 

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